I’ve been married for almost three years now, and finally, I no longer blush bright red when the word “sex” is mentioned out loud.

It’s more of a faint pink tinge.

Growing up, sex wasn’t talked about very much. Not at home, not with family, and certainly not in church! There, the very mention of the word would have turned ears to scarlet and had the deacons popping antacid pills. Sure, every year the youth group did a “True Love Waits” program, but we never got down to the real nitty-gritty. We dutifully signed cards and pledged to “wait for true love and marriage” - whatever that meant.

Many Christian youth today are in the same rapidly sinking boat. They have plenty of questions, but not enough people willing to give answers. Or worse, the wrong kind of people are giving the wrong kind of answers.

For those getting no answers, sex turns into "This Great Mystery." Lack of information inspires intrigue and sex becomes even more appealing. The lure of the unknown consumes the mind, and much like Eve, regret blooms after one taste of the forbidden fruit.

How many young men and women could have been protected if they had just been told that sex was not some guilty pleasure denied them, but rather, a part of God’s plan for their future marriage and well worth the wait? How many babies could have been saved if only these young girls had realized not just the negative consequences of sex outside marriage but the positive truth about sex within marriage?

Silence Outside Marriage, Confusion Within

After the wedding, one of the hardest things for young Christian couples to adjust to is the fact that sex is suddenly - okay! All the years of silence on the “forbidden topic,” all the years of feeling guilty for asking questions, all the years of wondering and dreaming, all the years of thinking sex as a "four letter word," suddenly diminish. Sex is expected, allowed, and not only that, but – gasp – it’s a part of God’s plan!

During their most formative years Christian teenagers, especially young girls, are often expected to push the topic of sex aside. The good girls are the ones that sign their pledge cards, sit on their hands when dying to ask questions, and polish their purity rings once a week.

However, I think those years are equally hard if not harder for young men. Those who remain pure during the trying years of hormone overload get married and suddenly expect to experience everything they’ve seen on TV, read in books, or heard in the locker room at school. And why wouldn’t they? It’s all they know.

Suddenly, we have two Christians who’ve done their best to remain pure but may be facing some challenges ahead. Because the mindset “sex is bad” has been drilled into the young woman’s mind for as long as she can remember, she finds it hard to relate to her husband physically. This creates tension between the newlywed couple. The woman creates a false sense of guilt in her head, and the young man develops insecurity – he misreads the situation and assumes something is wrong with him or thinks he is not appealing to his new wife. And what God has purposed for good between a husband and wife becomes distorted.

The couples who failed to protect their purity may be facing even greater challenges. Flashbacks from the past, unmet expectations, and recurring guilt plague this couple. Soon distance forms between the man and woman as their pasts begin to consume much of their emotional energy.

I firmly believe that nothing makes the Enemy happier than a loveless marriage. Which leaves only one option – fighting back. Stand up for your marriage. Give your concerns, your guilt, your insecurities, your fears and your past to God. If you remained pure until your wedding day yet still struggle with your emotions and mindsets, pour out your heart to God. Ask Him to change your way of thinking to a mindset that will be honoring and pleasing to both Him and your husband.

If you made a sexual mistake in your past, you can still move on. Confess to God, ask Him to forgive you, and make it right from here on out. It’s never too late for a fresh start. God is a God of second chances. You have no excuse as to why you can’t fight back and save your marriage from the Enemy’s grasp.

The Subtlety of the Serpent

If the above issues aren’t a problem for you, and you consider your marriage to be on track physically and emotionally, there are still many danger signs to watch for. The old adage “Sex Sells” is unfortunately all too true. Sex remains dominant everywhere you look. Movies, television shows, sitcoms, novels, websites, advertisements, commercials…even the “family” channels on TV promote filth in disguise. Characters in both television programs and books sleep together before they’re married and promote “casual sex.” These shows are often humorous on a superficial level (hence their draw!) but they fail to show the emotional, and usually physical, consequences of such flippant choices.

This is obviously an extremely dangerous situation, not only to our youth of today but to married couples everywhere. How can we save our spouse from temptation from such filth when it’s everywhere? How can we protect our eyes and ears when it seems sex is plastered all over any form of entertainment? Are we supposed to never see movies? Never turn on the television set? Never pick up a novel? Never venture outside of our house?

There are some precautions that are easy to take. For example:

1. Before seeing a movie in theaters, I always check out this website: www.kidsinmind.com. This site has a rating scale of 1-10 on sexuality, violence, and language. Not sure what number on the scale is suitable for you or your spouse? You can read on for a detailed account of each category. (2 religious profanity, 3 mild obscenities, 4 F-words, a woman wears a low-cut dress, etc.) This website archives movies back for literally decades if not older – so you can check out not only movies currently released in theater, but old rentals, as well!

2. Ladies, if you love reading romance novels but hate having to flip past the graphic love scenes – switch over to Christian Fiction. Christian fiction is a growing genre and provides readers with a clean version of the same romance, adventure and escape they seek. Visit my blog for a list of fantastic Christian authors of whom I am a fan: www.betsy-ann.blogspot.com.

3. Turn off the TV! Some shows are still worth watching but to be honest, not that many. Spend that quality time with your spouse, instead. Take the dog for a walk together. Pretend to be kids again and go play in the neighborhood park. Work together on a goal or project – update a room in the house, start your spring cleaning, cook a gourmet meal, etc.

There are ways to protect your mind and your spouse’s. Filth going in will eventually come out creating painful, lingering consequences. A wife doesn’t want to wonder if her husband is comparing her to the partially or completely naked woman he saw on the big screen last night. A husband doesn’t want to guess if his wife finds him as attractive as the buff, long-haired hero in the romance novel she devoured that afternoon.

Allowing these insecurities in your spouse is not pleasing to God. As an act of love for both your Heavenly Father and your husband/wife, watch what you put into your mind. You might think it doesn’t affect you, but it does. No one is immune to sin. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8.

One of the enemy’s greatest tricks is that of subtlety. You give an inch, he’ll take a mile. But you can beat him at his own game – with a lot of prayer and altering of your entertainment habits.

Take these steps toward a healthier marriage today. Filter what you pour into your mind – it’ll eventually seep into your heart. Be sensitive to the emotional and physical needs of your spouse. And remember, within the constraints of marriage, sex is not a four letter word but a unique blessing from God. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…” James 1: 17.

This article was originally published on Crosswalk Marriage in March 2007.

Betsy Ann St. Amant resides in northern Louisiana with her hubby and newborn daughter. She has a bachelor's degree in Christian Communications from Louisiana Baptist University and is actively pursuing a career in inspirational writing. Look for her novel RETURN TO LOVE by Steeple Hill Love Inspired on shelves July 2009. You may contact Betsy at betsystamant@yahoo.com.